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While reading Cynthia Davis’ comments about her proposed “Marriage Matters in Missouri Bill,” HR1234, I figured something out about the mental processes of people like Davis and the Tea Partiers who have endorsed her as “their” candidate. Talking Writing about one of the more innocuous aspects of her proposed legislation, a provision to waive part of the marriage license fee for couples who get some type of premarital counseling, Davis offers this observation:

I was surprised to discover that $27 of the marriage license fee goes toward child abuse and domestic violence shelters.  Why should the innocent citizens who are doing something honorable, moral and foundational to our civilization be forced to pay for the damage caused by those who are behaving dishonorably?  Statically, people who are “living together” are more likely to beat up their partners and children than married people, but they are not being asked to pay for domestic violence or child abuse.  The philosophical premise behind this fee is insulting to all married people.

Oh wow, I thought. I’m married and yet I would not be insulted at all if part of my marriage license fee had gone to help women and children trapped in abusive relationships, married or not.

Then I got it. What Davis is talking about is an aspect of the “freedom” that rings the Tea Partiers’ bell over and over. They are not worried abut the “freedom to be you and me” – they don’t even like that type of freedom – but rather freedom from the claims that individuals in a comity might be expected to exert on each other. In other words, it’s nothing more than narrow, bougie, mean-mindedness.

Ever wonder why the Tea Partiers throw tantrums about government spending, even when it is demonstrably beneficial and would actually pay for itself – like rational health care reform would? It’s because the spending is used for other people, very likely people who might be a little different from God’s select variety of tea people. They feel directly affronted that their money might be used for somebody who is poor and/or black (remember Saint Reagan’s “welfare queens”?), or those who have a different life style (perhaps cohabiting “dishonorably” per Davis). That’s what it means to usurp the freedom of a Tea Partier.  

Just for the record, I have to add that Davis’ assertions about who is involved in domestic violence aren’t just mean, they are also not necessarily true. For one thing, domestic violence is not well reported or understood, so sweeping statements about who is actually being abused and who is doing the abusing cannot be well substantiated.  

The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) does collect and publish statistics for those cases that are reported to law enforcement agencies.  According to the BJS, individuals most likely to suffer from domestic violence are women who are separated – and the offender may be the separated spouse or a boyfriend.

Violence that culminates in homicide, however, is most likely to involve those noble married folks whom Davis believes to be so direly insulted by the wedding license fee. And jut to be clear, in 70-80% of domestic violence homicides, which, as we have seen, predominantly involve married couples, the guilty partner had a history of abusing his or her victim.